Seventeen years ago, the designer Hussein Chalayan created a bona fide fashion moment at Sadler’s Wells theater in London: He put on a show that transformed tables into skirts, and chairs into dresses. It was an experience that changed the way many in the audience thought about clothing and its relationship to structure and function (ask anyone who was there: we all remember it), and Mr. Chalayan has been iterating similar themes in varying degrees of subtlety ever since. So now that he’s back in the same place — he returned last February after over a decade of showing in Paris — the expectations, and stakes, are high.
On Sunday, he delivered: if not quite the jaw-dropping experience he did at the turn of the millennium, one that was nevertheless satisfying in its maturity, and memorable in its grace. Explaining that he had been exploring ideas of disassociation created by digital culture, he sent out the best tailoring of the season thus far in a series of gray and white trouser suits, shirts and skirts, bunched here, twisted off-center there, volume just slightly askew under hoodies of sheer chiffon scarves that covered the head entirely. At the end, models appeared in evening columns, their faces suspended above their bodies with giant bedazzled frames. Only Mr. Chalayan could make such an unsettling idea so easy to, well, like. — VANESSA FRIEDMAN, fashion director, Styles
We Took a Moment to See Some Art
A confession: After Christopher Kane’s show at the Tate Modern on Monday afternoon, Malina and I bought tickets and sneaked upstairs. The fashion-show schedule is relentless, and the proximity made what was already inviting magnetic. I highly recommend this little bit of truancy. “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” the Tate’s show of black American art between 1963 and 1983, is an eye-opening survey of the manifold ways in which African-American artists worked around, within and against the currents of 20th-century American art.
Some of the artists I knew (Martin Puryear, who is represented here by a fabulous hump of a sculpture; Barkley Hendricks, whose swaggering, heroic portraits light up the show), but many I didn’t. Betye Saar, whose assemblages recall Joseph Cornell’s but whose style is entirely her own, was a revelation to me; so was Virginia Jaramillo, whose minimal but electric abstract canvas had a sharp elegance. “Soul of a Nation” runs at the Tate Modern until Oct. 22. Then, happily, it comes our way: to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., and the Brooklyn Museum in New York. — M.S.